Myanmar only opened its borders to foreign visitors recently, and hasn’t caught up with the influx of visitors flowing into the country.
There are few accommodation options, making it difficult to find a place to stay or score a deal. Luckily, more options are becoming available – but don’t find yourself stuck without a place to sleep by booking last minute.
Do yourself a favor and book a VIP bus for the extra comfort and better night's sleep. Be warned that the rides will be bumpy – Myanmar is notorious for having bad roads.
For a country that’s had minimal exposure to the western world, it’s surprising how much English is spoken. Locals are eager to practice their English during a taxi ride, or chat with you while you explore a local market.
Throughout most of Asia, haggling is a daily occurrence. In Myanmar it’s not nearly as common, as prices quoted by the locals are often a fair price to begin with. So don’t go thinking a local is ripping you off if they won’t go lower.
As tourism increases in Myanmar, it’s okay to try some haggling – but don’t push as much as you would in other parts of Asia.
To get into some of Myanmar’s best spots you’ll need to fork out some extra cash for site fees. Bagan and Inle Lake require cards that are purchased at small booths – these may look a little dubious, but they’re run by the government.
Don’t skimp out on getting these cards, you’ll be checked on some sites.
When you think of Bagan you picture hot air balloons rising at sunrise surrounded by temples.
It’s a beautiful scene, but few people know that these balloon rides are not available year-round. Visit during the dry season to avoid disappointment, and expect to pay prices of US $300 upwards.
Don’t expect to be out late partying in Myanmar. Many of the country’s top destinations have curfews for locals and visitors. Some can be as early as 7pm, while others encourage you to be back at your accommodation for 11pm at the latest.
Locals typically wear long skirts (longyis), long shirts, and t-shirts. Your short-shorts are not going to fly in Myanmar.
Pants and tops that cover your shoulders are respectful, and will ensure fewer eyes are on you.
Finding foreign dishes in Myanmar is not common, but luckily Burmese dishes are delicious. If you’re not a fan of curry or oil heavy dishes, I would suggest picking up your favorite snacks before entering the country, as they can come at a high price in Myanmar.
Ethnic and religious conflicts continue in Myanmar, making travel dangerous in a number of regions. Common regions that many countries have flagged as "do not travel" zones include: parts of the Rakhine State, Kachin state, and the border areas with China, Laos, Thailand, India and Bangladesh.
Before you step off-the-beaten-path, do your research thoroughly. It's important to read what your travel insurance policy covers you for before you end up in a particular region that has a government warning. Some policies can cover you if you travel to areas that have a warning against travel, while other policies exclude any expenses that arise from that area.
Restrictions have eased, elements of democracy have been introduced, but issues remain for those who wish to travel in Myanmar in an ethical way.
There are areas in Myanmar that are closed for security issues, or will require special permission. Find out where you can explore safely, and where strict restrictions are in place.